Spring is here and bird migration season is upon us!
One of the many species making their way back to British Columbia is the Black Swift, a nationally endangered and provincially Blue-listed species.
The Black Swift is part of the globally declining group of aerial insectivores. During the breeding season, they are commonly found feeding for insects in the air with other swifts and swallows, including above the Fraser Delta. They can be recognized by their dark colour, larger size, and slower wingbeat.
In 2022, Birds Canada began the Black Swift Conservation Project to fill knowledge gaps about the species in B.C. by collecting data on their nesting locations and breeding behaviour, as well as assessing localized threats. This species builds their nests on inaccessible ledges or niches on cliff faces near waterfalls and in canyons, often in remote settings, and the adults rarely attend the nest, making it very difficult to find the exact nesting locations.
Birds Canada, alongside our dedicated volunteers, surveyed 22 B.C. waterfall sites, in 2022, conducting 44 nest occupancy surveys in total. We found 10 nests, five of which were at the same location, making it the first colony documented in the coastal region of B.C. We were able to collect important data about the species, its behaviour and habitat requirements, and we intend to continue surveys and monitoring this summer.
While there are many factors contributing to the decline of aerial insectivores, you can take action to support their conservation and monitoring. This includes reporting sightings through platforms like eBird and other citizen science programs, or taking action against pesticide use and climate change. Through continued efforts, we can help support the recovery of this group of birds and preserve the ecological components that they rely on. Please check out our website at: birdscanada.org for more information.
Editor's note: Nature Notes is a monthly column written by the Delta Naturalists and or their community partners.